Sex Lives and Videotape

October 14, 1994

Americans are more stressed than ever. No, says the Use of Time Project at the University of Maryland; we have more leisure time than before.

Americans are having sex like bunnies. No, says a new study out of the University of Chicago; Americans' sex lives are tepid and tame.

If the economy is humming, we were told, Americans will be happy with Bill Clinton, who they elected on the mantra, "It's the economy, stupid." But despite positive trends in job growth and inflation, the president is held in such low regard it is a measure of a Democrat's courage to be with him.

What's wrong with this picture? Why do our actions speak not louder than, but so incongruously, to our words?

The mass media gets some of the blame, specifically television, which simultaneously enhances and distorts our world. The time survey at College Park is frightening in its revelation of the amount of time people invest in TV, like they're frozen in the pull of some Star-Trekian traction beam in their living room. We spend roughly a third of all leisure time before the tube. With a Geraldo-esque window on the world, no wonder the prevailing wisdom is that everyone besides you is having riotous, experimental sex at that moment.

In fact, it is a lack of interaction with others that is at the root of so much dysfunction and dissatisfaction in society. People think there's something missing in their lives and there's nothing Bill Clinton, or George Bush before him, or any other politician can do about it. And the worst part? With the information highway around the bend, we'll spend even more time interacting with a machine instead of one other into the next century. How much time do you think we'll have for sex then?

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